107 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Autumn 1985 – 3

107 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Autumn 1985 – 3

Restoration of the Sentinel – One man’s battle against adversity

The Sentinel at Walsall Gas Works the day it was delivered brand new in 1958 – photo Mike Wood.

In 1981, as part of the exchange deal for the Royal Saloon, the railway acquired ‘in working order’ a 100h.p. Sentinel shunting loco.  This was duly steamed and trundled up and down with three or four wagons whilst waiting for the promised boiler certificates.  These eventually arrived but consisted of a boiler maintenance card, a Hydraulic certificate for somebody’s crane and a steam test certificate for 9632 which was later rejected by our Boiler Inspector as ‘not worth the paper it was written on’ because no hydraulic or visual examination had been carried out.

The only solution to the problem was to drop the firebox and start again from scratch.  It was this action which revealed a long list of both major and minor faults which all required rectification.  Luckily the boiler shell and firebox were in good condition but the superheater had holes in it and the spark arrestor box and chimneys were rotten enough to require replacement.  Eventually, following inspection, the boiler was re-assembled and passed its 413psi hydraulic test. Since then the rest of the loco has been gradually rebuilt, and as during last winter we had serious problems with thefts and vandalism, the opportunity was taken to fit lockable sliding yobo-proof screens to the cab along with wire reinforced glass and bars over the windows.

The Sentinel shuffling past the loco shed at Chasewater during a test steaming shortly after arrival from Butterley, after which it was dismantled for overhaul – photo Sid Mills.

During 1984 the loco was test steamed twice revealing more minor problems.  The steam brake would not release properly because the valve body had been machined badly out of true; the engine blow through drain valve would not work because its pipe was blocked with twelve inches of solidified sludge; even the injector water valve could not be operated properly from the cab.  However, following each steaming of the loco, more faults are corrected or improvements made.

Two faults which need to be checked at the next steaming are the boiler feed pump which so far has refused to work, and the engine oil pump which has to be primed with oil before it will pump pressure.  Hopefully the recently installed stainless steel balls in the non-return valve matrix may have cured the oil pump problem.

At the present time the loco is being re-assembled after its second visual boiler inspection and painted BR black for the Open Day in October.  Hopefully, three years after it arrived it can at last be seen running in public.

The Chasewater Fat Controller – Nigel Canning.At the time of writing – May 2011 the Sentinel is coming to the end of its latest overhaul.

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